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Dealing with a cry for attention

What’s wrong with time outs? I’ve read in one of the answers that they don’t work and make things worse? How so? I have 3 kids, just turned four male, almost 2 male and 4 month old girl. The middle child is my most demanding and is always starting something. I know it’s a cry for attention but he doesn’t stop nor give in. Putting him on the stairs/cot for time out is only just starting to make a difference. Before that I found I was giving him small smacks which made us both feel terrible.

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